by Kevin Trout on Jedi 365.
One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn was my short-comings as a teacher. It was a difficult lesson to accept because it affected another person. This reality can often be forgotten in an online environment. The Jedi Path is a lifestyle. It is how one approaches life. What they use to base their decisions in life off of. This is no different than any other lifestyle people embrace. As such I am yelling often and loudly – choose your mentor wisely! Anyone can create a Jedi group. Anyone can make the claim of Jedi Master. But it is a role should not be taken lightly. Jedi first, that is the key word. Live that and the rest will fall into place over time. But not all who inhabit the role of Jedi Master are what they claim. I wish I had been told as much, both when I was a student and when I took on the responsibility too soon. So here are some things to keep in mind when seeking out your Jedi Mentor so you can hopefully avoid such costly lessons.
Knighthood in Six Months or Less. Oh! Or Jedi Knight in Ten Easy Steps. Yeah, any shortcut promised is a shortcut in results. If you truly want to live your life as a Jedi it will take time. You want to be a Jedi Knight? It will take time. Have you been a Martial Artists for twenty years? Same amount of time. Philosophy Teacher for a decade? Same amount of it. Star Wars fan for two days? Same amount of time. What is that amount of time? It actually varies. Different groups simply have different standards. And some people learn and apply at different levels. But at the very least you should expect two years of dedicated training with a specific group/teacher before you even start hoping for that Knight title. Anything less is robbing you of valuable experience as a Jedi; and throwing you to the wolves without Liam Neeson there to save you.
Don’t accept shortcuts either. Your previous life experience certainly will play a part in your training and life as a Jedi. But it doesn’t make you a better Jedi. It adds to your knowledge and flavor as a Jedi – especially when you become a mentor. It is information and experience you can still pass on. But the only thing that qualifies you for is being the awesome and unique Jedi that you are. Knighthood is a matter of experience specifically living as a Jedi (and all our crazy stipulations of the Path). So don’t sell yourself short. Put in the time and effort. The investment is worth it.
Selfishness and Abuse. Some points should really go without saying, but I have found that is rarely a wise idea. Ask “stupid” questions. Say the things that go without saying. Speak openly and freely. So this hopefully clear. Using the “Master” role as a way to dominate others, to make sexual advances on students, to basically prop themselves up in a juvenile fantasy. This is all a no-no. No one is getting rich by being a Jedi Master – nor should they be trying to be. Jedi Master does not translate into sex god. It is honestly just a bigger hassle – um, I mean – responsibility. It is a recognition that you have put in so much time and have lived the path so completely that Jedi is just who you are. The stumbles and falling flat on the face has slowed down a lot. There are no benefits to it – unless you do really enjoy more work. Than plenty of benefits to be had.
This is a simple one. The training relationship is an intimate one as it is. Any “Master” trying to twist that for them needs to be dumped, reported, and slapped in the face with a real lightsaber. Since those don’t exist, I guess a dueling saber will have to do or an iron. Don’t turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior. Speak up. Sometimes people just get to carried away. Know you boundaries and when they are crossed say so. An actual Master will apologize and acknowledge their mistake. They will ensure not to cross that line again. Again, of course, if it is a big violation – One Strike your out rule.
Hypocrisy. Jedi Path is not a do as I say not as a I do path. Now hypocrisy in the Jedi can actually take a little while to see. Big things are easy to spot (as we listed above, for example). But it is the little things that reveal a False Master. One example, online conversations have a general etiquette. Private messages are private (excluding, sexual harassment, threats, etc.) for example. This is especially true in the Jedi Community because we all have bad days. Now if I am going through a particularly difficult moment and I seek out the Jedi Master to vent and seek advice from I want that trust to be honored. Thus I use a private message system (e-mail even). Now I have seen “Masters” take private messages and spread them around. Sometimes to a select few (a council of some such) or worse they post them publicly. This automatically shatters the trust and respect of the position they claim. Especially when they do so only to make themselves look good. Now, how do you know “private” messages will be honored as such? Because they say so? Because they’d never do that to you? Come on. That is a fool me once, fool me twice set-up right there. They acted against the staple of the Jedi Path. Trust, Respect, Honor the Jedi, Honor the Student. The “master” in this example has shown that another’s privacy means nothing if it suits the “master’s” personal goals.
Some things will only be visible once you know the details of the Jedi Path. Such as the Jedi Rules of Behavior and the Jedi Circle. Of course, be sure you don’t mistake Devil’s Advocate with hypocrisy. Jedi teachers will often question or even tear down their own teachings (in debate – rarely in action) to help a student formulate their own thoughts and views on a particular topic. They challenge the student to not simply echo someone’s words, but to have their own understanding and experience with the subject. If you are in doubt – ask. Ask for an outside opinion. Grab a Jedi Knight and be like – yo! Is this copacetic?
Train for Free. Online training should never once cost you money. There is a cost of hosting a website. Time and energy put into running, maintaining, and improving are worth money. So if you, without being asked, wish to donate to your home online “Order” then by all means. But you should not be asked for donations. And you should never feel obliged to pay anything for your time online. It is important to remember that Jedi is not the charity. Individuals like myself who host Jedi sites and put material out there do so because they find it a sound investment of their time and money.
It is an investment on both parties. If one is unable to support the cost, time, and effort needed to running a Jedi group than perhaps they shouldn’t be doing that. You, as a student, are investing your time, energy, effort, and trust into the training material. That is a return in investment for the group. Their materials are being used and should result in one more quality Jedi in the world. And let me assure you – that is well worth a little money in hosting fees a month. Only addendum I would add is offline training can get tricky. Some groups offer it for free. Some work off basic non-profit membership dues (look at Rotary or Optimist group for comparable concept). This is generally a very low and fair price that basically covers things like charity set-ups and refreshments. But use your judgment. If you do not feel comfortable paying than don’t.
Control Instead of Criticism. Jedi are not paper-cut-out copies of one another. We follow the same Path, but we are still our unique individual selves. We will not always agree with one another. Our experiences in the path will not always lead us to the same conclusions. Debates are going to happen. Disagreements are going to happen. However the False Master will not like this and will not be able to handle this and so they will shut it down. I have seen posts and entire discussions deleted. I have seen members get banned. Instead of simply addressing the concerns and issues of the members the “Master” incites control and demands obedience. They will use their administration rights to silence what they don’t like.
Make no mistake. Your time online is valuable. It is still your time, your effort, your thoughts. If you take time out of your life to read something, consider it, and address it then you have invested something into it. It may not be much, youtube comments for example may be a very minor investment. But your online Jedi training tends to take a bit more effort. And if the “Master” cannot honor that investment and cannot be trusted with it then do not put your time there. Invest you time where it is most valued. Not where it will be erased or you’ll be removed because the powers that be don’t like it.
Beware the Grandmaster. Really any oobie title is a sign of unnecessary ego-inflation. I personally have an issue with just the title Master. But at least Master can be and is often viewed simply as a honorific title. Once you go beyond that title, you are trending into the world of ego-trips and self-satisfaction. Temple Lord. Overseer. Grand Pumba of Jedi. Most will try to justify these titles as organizational. Though really look at the structure of the organization. Consider is it truly a necessary position? Generally speaking it is not necessary. But a way for people to feel a little bit more special. To get that little extra praise. Any Jedi I have talked to feels Jedi is enough. However in a group new and curious people do like to know who is qualified for what. Jedi Knight informs those who is capable of teaching. Jedi Apprentice lets people know they are in a structured training arrangement and have a little bit of experience in the path. Jedi Newbie (I don’t think that is an actual title anywhere by the way, just an example) allows people to know who is starting out and may be around their own experience level.
One title which you may see is Founder. I tend to give a benefit of the doubt and say it is there for records and history sake. Simply a notation in the logs to who put this ship together and invited others along for the ride. Note that it doesn’t take a wizard to create a Jedi group. So while thanks for their work and effort is appreciated, do remember it doesn’t make them any better of a Jedi.
Titles R’ Us. What is the point of being a Jedi Knight? It is minimal. The point is simply to live your life as a Jedi and to have reached a point where you are capable and comfortable with passing on the Jedi Way if you so desire. An overly attached view and stock in titles is not a great sign. Because it often highlights the mentality that Knighthood or being a Master is the end. Such people and groups miss the most important thing about being a Jedi – Living it. Living it well. I don’t know what to tell you outside of the fact that I find living as a Jedi unbelievably awesome. It is a great path to live by (the community not so much sometimes, but that is another post for another time). Don’t be focused on Knight or Master and if your mentors have that end goal view, take it as a caution sign. The Jedi Path is just about living as a Jedi in your everyday life. You really don’t need any fancy titles. Of course organizationally speaking (as we mentioned earlier) they do have there place. But titles aren’t the end all be all. No Master should have a focus on getting you to a specific title. That misses the point.
This applies to enlightenment as well. That should never be a stated focus. Jedi isn’t a path specifically designed for you to reach enlightenment. Can it happen? Absolutely. It will it happen? Who knows. That isn’t the goal. Spiritual absolution is not something that can be promised. It is as simple as this – Jedi is about living it. If you achieve something more form it – wonderful! If not – I fully believe the path itself will prove itself a worthy investment of your time and focus. But I am a bit bias in that.